Great news for homeowners who have solar in New Mexico! If you are a customer of Southwestern Public Service Utility (SPS), on September 5, 2018, commissioners voted to eliminate a standby fee on solar customers called Rate 59. As a result, solar customers will not longer have to pay a monthly fee, and will be reimbursed over $10 million dollars!
The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (or PRC for short), officially ordered SPS to end Rate 59. Rate 59 was a monthly standby fee charged to customers with solar panels in New Mexico. This nonessential, monthly standby fee cost solar customers an average of over $300 a year. It was put into place because the public utility chose to charge solar customers to maintain a certain level of electricity. SPS stated they believed the standby fee was necessary, and that ending it would unfair to customers without solar. Because these non-solar customers would be paying to support this extra energy, they would also be paying for those with solar. But despite claims that this standby fee helped grid stability, in reality it only penalized customers who chose to go solar in New Mexico. With Rate 59 out the window, solar customers can keep more of their monthly savings, and are free from the 11% standby fee hike requested by the SPS.
Rate 59, which has been in place since 2010, limited the energy savings people see with solar panels. As a result, people who are customers of Southwestern Public Service Utility have been more reluctant to make the switch. With this regulation ending, more people wanting to go solar in New Mexico will be able to invest in solar panels.
Opponents of Rate 59 have criticized SPS for creating lack of growth for solar in New Mexico. It also caused some concern that other large utility companies would follow suite, and create standby fees for their solar customers as well. Such a trend could have very negative effects on the New Mexico solar industry.
Fortunately, hearing officer Carolyn Glick helped shed some light on the subject. After some study, it was found that the charges SPS proposed were not supported by data it had cited. Glick wrote that the data used to justify the proposed standby fee increase was “riddled with errors and unreliable.” She also said the extra charge was “flawed in several respects”. The New Mexico PRC agreed with Glick’s findings. In addition to Rate 59 being revoked, they ruled that SPS must reimburse solar customers over the next 18 months. It is estimated over $10 million will be returned to their solar customers.
This exciting news is a cause for celebration for advocates of solar in New Mexico! By striking down Rate 59, utility companies will be less likely to mandate solar fees in the future. This will help the renewable energy market, and homeowners who go solar in New Mexico will not be penalized for installing solar panels.
If you’re interested in learning more, contact us at Sunpro Solar. We do quality solar installations throughout the southern U.S., including New Mexico. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about solar energy.